British Columbia

$1.1M offer fails to stop closure of Osoyoos high school

The mayor of Osoyoos says the school district made the wrong choice when it voted to close her town's only only high school last night.

Town offered to raise the cash over the next 3 years to keep Osoyoos Secondary School open.

Parents gathered earlier this month to watch as School District 53 trustees voted 4-3 to close Osoyoos Secondary School. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

The mayor of Osoyoos said the school district made the wrong choice last night when it rejected a $1.1 million offer to keep the town's only high school open.

Mayor Sue McKortoff said Thursday the town had offered to raise the cash over the next three years to keep Osoyoos Secondary School open. 

But she said school trustees said they couldn't accept it because it would mean, in their words, a "two-tiered education" system with funding coming from both the city and the province. Thus they voted once again to close the school.

The board voted earlier this month to close the school, but the town of 5,000 rallied to raise the money to keep the high school open, because of concerns families would not want to settle in a town without a high school.

"We have been trying every possible way to not have that decision happen to our small town... It is devastating for a small town," said McKortoff.

Enrolment down, but trend is up

Following last night's vote, the school is scheduled to close at the end of term in June. In September students will go to South Okanagan Secondary School, 22 kilometres away in Oliver.

But some parents are looking at either moving or opening a private school in Osoyoos, said McKortoff.

About 250 students currently attend the school, which is designed for 300 students. McKortoff said while enrolment may be down, the long-term trend is up.

"It is slightly down, but to be fair, enrolment in every school in the district ... has gone down a little bit. We don't see that as a trend that is going to continue."

She points to a new correctional centre opening nearby and a surge of new families moving to the area to escape high real estate costs in Vancouver and declining job prospects in Alberta.

Parents attended a rally in April 2016 in an effort to save Osoyoos' only high school from closure. (Brenda Dorosz)

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the town had a plan to raise $1.3 million to save the school. In fact the town came up with a $1.1 million offer.
    Apr 28, 2016 11:11 AM PT

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